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Transcripts: Mike Smith and Matt Ryan Interviews

Posted Jan 9, 2013

Head coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan spoke to the media Wednesday as they prepare for Sunday's divisional round playoff game against Seattle.

Head coach Mike Smith
On the injury report:

“We had two guys that didn’t practice. S Charles Mitchell and CB Chris Owens. Had two that were limited in terms of what they did today. That was S William Moore and DE John Abraham. CB Dunta Robinson was full participation. We anticipate getting Charles Mitchell out on the field tomorrow.”

On what Mitchell’s injury was:

“Calf injury. It happened during the Bye week.”

On how the first playoff practice went:

“It went well. I thought the guys had a lot of energy. Preparation started for the coaching staff last week in terms of getting a jump on some of our potential opponents. We got an opportunity to come out here and see some of those plans in place out on the field. I thought the guys did a nice job today.”

On how the limited guys looked (Moore and Abraham):

“They looked good, very good. We’ll continue to monitor their reps, but we anticipate that they’ll be ready to go one o’clock on Sunday.”

On this being QB Matt Ryan’s best year:

“To this point, I think Matt’s had a very good season. Obviously, statistically and individually it’s been his best year in terms of most of the markers you look at as a quarterback. I think he’s done a very good job in running our offense. He’s matured each and every year.”

On QB Russell Wilson having trouble seeing him behind the line with his size:

“He does a very good job. He had a great knack of avoiding contact. It seems like he’s got that sixth sense to move around in the pocket. He’s a guy that can extend plays and when he extends plays it gives them an opportunity to throw the ball down the field. He’s got a very long arm. He’s a guy that can throw the ball up to sixty yards from the line of scrimmage. His running ability shows up with his statistics and his ability to run the football. That’s just talking about the scrambles. Not having to account for him as a runner in the read option game.”

On any adjustments this week before the playoff game from previous years:

“No. Our week this week is we are right back into our normal game week. End of the season game week in terms of snaps and the time that we’re on the field and what our dress is. We will continue the normal Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday routine that we’ve been doing since really the midpoint of the season.”

On RB Marshawn Lynch:

“He is a big, strong, aggressive running back. I think he’s got very good vision. He’s guy that when he has to lower his pads and punch a hole in the defense he can do that. He’s also got the innate ability to cut the ball back. He’ll come out the back door, so we’ve got to do a good job in leveraging the football. In my mind, he’s one of the top two or three running backs in the League.”

On not being able to tackle him with one player:

“You have to get multiple sets of pads on Marshawn. He’s got a great body lean. When you have a guy that runs behind his pads it usually takes more than one defender to get there.”

On the team keeping their poise in an intense atmosphere:

“When you start talking about the markers of success, the first thing everybody talks about as a coach is you want to be focused. You can’t concern yourself with things you don’t have control over, so you’ve got to be focused. The other thing everybody talks about is starting fast or setting the tempo. I’m sure Coach Carroll is preaching the same things as a coach. Those are the things you really want to address. It’s going to be a great atmosphere not only for the players, but the fans. When the National Football League comes out and shows it’s best is when you get in the playoffs.”

Quarterback Matt Ryan
On the Seahawks being a physical team:

“Seattle is a very good defense, very physical. They do a great job. The front four is big and strong and stout against the run. Corners are big. Some of the bigger corners that we’ve seen the entire year.”

On taking anything away from playing against them last year:

“You take a look at it and see some of the matchups. Sherman wasn’t playing quite as much last year as he is now. He’s playing at a high level. I think he’s got something like eight interceptions this year. He’s been playing really well. Our guys are big and physical, too. It’s going to be a good matchup for both sides.”

On safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas:

“I think their safeties are really good. Earl Thomas covers a ton of ground. He’s an extremely fast player and flies when the ball is in the air. He covers a lot of ground. Kam Chancellor is a big guy. They bring him down in the box quite a bit. Very physical, good against the run, good against the pass, so it’s a very talented secondary.”

On how early he can tell what player the defense is going to take away:

“I think it just depends on how the game shakes out. We’ll see what wrinkles they have for us going into it and we’ll adjust on the sideline. I think that’s something we’ve done a pretty good job of all year.”

On there being no secrets this time of year regarding play calls:

“No. When you have for us 16 games on schedule and for them 17 games on tape, you do what you do. I think that’s one of the reasons they have been as successful as they’ve been because when you watch their film they do a lot of the same things week in and week out and they do them well. They have the guys that they feel can go play their scheme and trust their guys to get it done. I think there will be something here or there, a blitz package here or there for us, but we’re going to see man-to-man coverage and some press coverage on the outside and an eight-man box to stop the run.”

On practicing last week:

“One of the good things that we did last week is we were in here a ton. We practiced a lot. I thought that was good. We got to work on some of the things that you don’t really get to work on when you’re game planning and going week-to-week. I thought that was good for us, and then obviously once it changes and you find out who your opponent is guys were in Monday and getting ready to go.”

On the best way to describe how this team is feeling:

“I think everybody is excited. Excited for the opportunity in front of us. This is what you work for. You put in all the time that you put in during the offseason, during training camp, during OTAs, during minicamp to try and give yourself an opportunity to be playing this time of year. I think everybody is really excited.”

On handling the pressure this year:

“The biggest thing is to get settled into your routine, whatever it is through the course of the week. Prepare the way that you normally prepare. Everybody is going to be excited. Everybody is going to have a lot of energy. When we get out there and we start playing it comes down to execution. When you’re focused and concentrating I think we execute best.”

On handling the expectations of people:

“I don’t worry about it. I don’t think about it. My focus is for this locker room and the guys and the coaching staff. We’re all together. We’ve worked really hard during the course of the offseason and through training camp and OTAs to get ourselves an opportunity to be playing at this time of year. We want to play our best football and really that’s the only thing I’m worried about. Trying to do whatever we can do to play our best football Sunday.”

On QB Russell Wilson:

“He’s done it. Obviously, he’s done it. Last week was probably the second game I’ve seen them play on TV the entire year. He’s played really well. It looks like they’re doing a ton of different things and he’s gone out there and he’s owned what they’ve done on offense, so I’ve been impressed.”

On the time when it’s right to give the quarterback more responsibilities:

“It’s striking the right balance. Not having so much that you don’t do anything well, but having enough where you keep people off balance. For me, that came with some time. That really helped out.”

On lessons he’s taking forward from the past three playoff games:

“Tons. You learn a lot about your preparation going into them. For me, my preparation even during the regular season has been different this year than it has been the last four. I’ll be consistent with what I’ve done this year this week. At the same time, I think you learn you have to be on top of opportunities that present itself during the game. Each game comes down to four or five different plays and it comes down to who makes those plays. Hopefully, we’ll be able to go out there and make the plays when we need to.”

On not letting a big play against the team decide the outcome of the game:

“That’s one of the things you learn. You learn from those four or five different plays that change the outcome of games. We know that. That’s no different from the regular season too. The intensity is probably a little bigger. The quicker you can settle yourself in and just get down to executing and playing like we know how to play the better off you are.”

On playing in big games like this:

“I feel like every week is, especially in this League. Every time you step out on the field it’s important. In terms of playoff stuff and those kinds of things, you’re probably in those a handful of times a year.”

On having confidence in the offense this time of year:

“I think so. I really do. I’m confident in the guys around us. We’ve proven that we can go out there and be successful. You have to buy into that. You have to believe that, and I feel more comfortable with the guys around me. Having been in my second year with WR Julio Jones now adds to that confidence level. Knowing WR Roddy White and having played with him for five years and understanding him inside and out. He understands me the same way. I think that helps. Playing with TE Tony Gonzalez now for four seasons into it, I think we’re at a different place than we’ve ever been. Those kinds of relationships and those kinds of things help, especially when you’re in the heat of battle. Guys can talk to each other, we trust each other and I think that trust has shown up on the field.”

On keeping defenses guessing more with OC Dirk Koetter:

“I think Dirk has done a great job. I really do. He’s done a great job of understanding what we have and trying to put us in good positions to be successful and keep the defense off balance. I think he’s done really well with that this year.”

On predictability a problem last year:

“We’re a different team and a different group than we were last year.”

On helping TE Tony Gonzalez win a ring:

“You love to see it obviously a guy that’s been around a long time. He’ll be the first to tell you it’s about us. It’s about us collectively and it’s what we’ve done as team. That’s what drives everybody this time of year.”

On thinking how amazing it is he’s playing at such a high level when he’s 36 years old:

“I tell him he’s old all the time. I guess it does cross my mind every now and then. He certainly doesn’t play that way. He keeps himself in perfect shape, and he takes care of himself as well as anybody. I keep telling him I think he could play a couple more years.”

On LB Bobby Wagner:

“Very fast. Their front four does a great job of funneling things to him. Obviously, their team leader in tackles this year. He’s an athletic guy. He really is. He’s an athletic guy that is a sure tackler.”

On who has run the ball well against Seattle:

“When you look at them throughout the year, I think they’re fourth against teams in terms of yards and number one in terms of points scored, their defense. They’ve been stout the entire year.”

On DE Chris Clemons being out changing things:

“I think so a little bit. Obviously, he’s a great player. You never want to see somebody get injured in those kinds of situations. It probably changes a little bit of what they do, but they’ve still got a stout front four. They’re very good against the run. They’ve got some big guys that create matchup problems for you that we’ve got to address.”

On noticing on film how aggressive a team is:

“I think so. Their play is aggressive, their play calling is aggressive. I think the combination of those two things when you watch the film it does. It jumps off. They play physical and they keep eight guys down in the box a lot, which is an aggressive style of play.” 


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